Four Ballenas Whalers players will continue their football careers with the Vancouver Island Raiders.
Graduating Whalers quarterback Ben Chomolok, running back Demar Honstein, offensive lineman Gage Geiger and defensive lineman Matthew Muelleder will join the B.C. Football Conference Raiders. All four were key players who helped the Whalers reach the semifinals in BC High School Football playoff action.
Josh Williams, general manager for the Nanaimo-based Raiders, said they have kept an eye on the four Whalers, watching them develop over the years. All have also taken part in Raiders football camps, giving Williams and his coaches the ability to gauge their potential.
“They’re right here in my backyard,” said Williams. “To have all that talent one town over, I’d be foolish not to go in and scoop up those guys before anyone does. Ballenas, year after year, have been producing consistently players that are very competitive. So why not bring those guys in?”
Chomolok has been attending Raiders camp since he was in Grade 10. He led the junior Whalers to the provincial final at BC Place in 2017, while also taking the reins of the Ballenas senior side when quarterback Ben Robinson suffered a concussion. He went on to become the varsity Whalers No. 1 quarterback the last two years.
This year, Chomolok led the Whalers, was named Western Conference offensive MVP, and was named to the provincial all-star team.
Williams would like to see Chomolok to eventually lead the Raiders, whose current quarterback Jake Laberge is finishing his final season with the team.
“We’ve been watching Ben and I believe he can come in and become a good No. 2 for us,” said Williams. “With Jake leaving this season, I told Ben I could hand the reins to him for four, five years if he wants. He said ‘yes’ and that he would like to step up and improve his game.”
Hohnstein has been a driving force for the Whalers offence.
“Demar has speed,” said Williams. “His physical abilities right now, I think are already up to par with everybody else on our team. In terms of speed and strength, he’s on par to push some of our starters.”
Two years ago, Geiger was the Whalers’ most improved player. He continued to hone his game this year. He was named to the Western Conference all-star team.
“Gage is a great player,” said Williams. “When he was younger coming out to our camp, he never whines, he never complains, he puts on his pads and he got down and dirty with all of our guys. He’s a fighter and I don’t look for him to ever give up just because it gets hard.”
Muelleder is a towering 6-foot-5 d-lineman, who weighs in at approximately 385 pounds. Wood said his size is an added incentive.
“I can’t coach size,” Williams quipped. “I can coach you to be the best player you can be but I can’t coach you to be six-five, 385. I have been chatting with him lots and have been giving him some goals. I think he is going to come in here and really be a force with use over the next couple of years. He’s going to get some good training in the gym and set him up. The kid is only 18 years old. That gives me a lot of tools to work with and I really like to push him, maximize his ability.”
Williams hopes the BC Football Conference season will not be cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“As of right now, the season is still a go,” said Williams. “We’re just waiting for somebody to tell us ‘no.’”